2012 Olympic torch lit in Ancient Olympia

Ancient Olympia (Greece): The torch for the 2012 London Games was lit here Thursday at the site of the ancient Olympics.

In front of the ruins of the ancient Temple of Hera, an actress playing the role of a high priestesses lit the Olympic flame by the rays of the sun in a parabolic mirror.

Dignitaries at the ceremony included International Olympic Committee (IOC) president Jacques Rogge and Sebastian Coe, chief of the London Organising Committee of the Olympic Games (LOCOG).

“We promise to protect the flame, to cherish its traditions and stage an uplifting torch relay of which we can be proud,” Coe said in a speech, adding that the event would “lift the spirits and hopes of people across Britain and across the world”.

The flame was handed over to the first torch-bearer, Greek world swimming champion Spyros Gianniotis, marking the start of an 1,800-mile journey through the country featuring 490 torch-bearers, Xinhua reports.

It will then be handed to London Games’ organisers May 17 in Athens’ Panathenaic Stadium.

The 70-day relay around Britain will start at Land’s End May 19 and end with the opening ceremony at the Olympic Stadium in Stratford, east London July 27.